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Remembering an Angel 09/30/2009

Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated the Texas Rangers  11-0  Monday night.  With the win, the Angels clinched the American League

The Angels celebrate their division championship

The Angels celebrate their division championship

 West Division title and punched their ticket to post season play.  There was the traditional dog pile celebration at the center of the diamond.  As with most championship celebrations, the players poured champagne and beer on each other in the clubhouse.   During the revelry, something special happened.   A jersey of  fallen team mate Nick Adenhart was produced, and it, too, was doused with bubbly.  The team also went, en mass, to the memorial banner of Adenheart on the center field wall of the ball park to celebrate with his memory and have a team photo taken. 

Adenhart was a pitcher with the Angels at the beginning of the season.  He had a career record in the Majors of 1-0.  On April 8th he started a game for the Angels.  He was pulled from the game after 6 innings, and had allowed 0 runs.  The Angels lead 3-0 when he left.  They went on to lose the game, but a few short hours later, they lost much more than that.  They lost a team mate.  Someone who was well liked.  Shortly after midnight, Adenhart was involved in an auto accident.  Allegedly, another car ran a red light and smashed into his vehicle.  Three of the 4 people in Adenhar’ts car were killed, including the pitcher.  The driver of the vehicle that ran the red light was apparently driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The Angels include Adenhart's jersey in their celebration

The Angels include Adenhart's jersey in their celebration

The loss of Adenhart hit the team hard.  But he was never forgotten by the team or his team mates.  His locker at the stadium in Anaheim was left in tact.  He was assigned a locker on every away game.  One of his jerseys was hung in the Angels dugout for every game, home or away.  These players carried their team mate’s memory with them through out the long season.  They included him every step of the way.  They kept him in their hearts.  When they clinched the division, it was only fitting that they included him in their celebration.  They did with his jersey what they would have done with him.  It was a wonderful gesture.

But, as with everything, it seems, these days, the team and the players have come under criticism from some in the public and the press.  It is insensitive, they say, to pour alcohol over the jersey of someone who was killed by an allegedly drunk driver.  On some level, I guess I can see their point.  But I think they are missing the point.  Champagne has long been the symbol of champions.  It is tradition.  Alcohol is beside the point.  It is the tradition of campaign, not alcohol, that is being observed.  You don’t see players dousing each other with, say, Jack Daniels or grain alcohol.  If alcohol were the point, these would be, perhaps, better choices than champagne.  And, to an even larger point, they were symbolically including their friend.  They were honoring his memory.  Every bit as much as when they place a jersey in the dugout, or assign him a locker on the road.  In this day and age of transience, of free agency, it is, indeed, special to see such a tribute to a teammate who has been gone for almost 6 months.  That loyalty is something to be admired.  I say the insensitive ones are the people trying to advance their own agenda by attacking this outpouring of love for a team mate no longer here.  If there is shame here, it belongs to the detractors.

Good on you, Angels.  Your loyalty to Adenhart was touching, and is to be admired.  I’m sure Nick was celebrating right along with you!

The Adenhart banner on the Angels outfield wall

The Adenhart banner on the Angels outfield wall

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